After completing his BS and MS in Taiwan, Chung-Hao Liu came to the US to join UConn’s Polymer Ph.D. Program. He worked under the guidance of Prof. Mu-Ping Nieh to learn the principles of self-assembly and structural characterization using neutron, x-ray, and light scattering. Chung-Hao was a productive student in scientific output with 3 lead-author, and 14 coauthored publications in prestigious peer-reviewed journals (including Journal of American Chemical Society, Angewandte Chemie, Advanced Functional Materials, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Nanoscale, Macromolecules, ACS Macro Letters, etc.) and more to come.
Reflecting on his experience at UConn, Chung-Hao says he loved the collaborative nature of the Institute of Materials Science with both faculty and students. The interdisciplinary research projects allowed him to speak with chemists and engineers from various backgrounds. He also noted that faculty were always open to providing help whenever he encountered problems. Chung-Hao also enjoyed freedom in research the pursuit of research projects without being micromanaged.
Chung-Hao completed his dissertation defense, “Encapsulation and Polymerization in the Fluid Phase of a Well-Defined Bicellar Template,” in spring 2023 and has started his new journey as a postdoctoral scientist in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, in July 2023.
UConn’s Future Climate Venture Studio has created a fellowship program designed to provide tangible experiences for students interested in learning in start-ups, marketing, commercialization, venture development, and research around climate change. Materials Science PhD. student, Amy Pollock, is one of three UConn graduate students to receive the fellowship. Fellows were selected for their excellent writing skills, science, technical, or business background, interest in the entrepreneurial process, interest in addressing climate change, and their ability to work independently and handle confidential material. The program partners each student with 2 start-up companies that need advice and/or assistance within a specific discipline. This enables the companies to have access to scientist working in their field while the students gain insight regarding the many challenges of creating and maintaining a startup company. The program is one more example of UConn’s support of entrepreneurship for both students as well as faculty.
Polymer Ph.D. student, Abhirup Dutta, received an internship with Henkel Corporation during the summer of 2021. He worked in product development R&D with their adhesives team performing synthesis, formulation, and application testing of novel isocyanate free polyurethane based reactive hot-melt adhesives for engineered wood applications.
Abhirup states the overall experience was a great exposure to research and development of industrial significant materials like adhesives and coatings. It provided the opportunity to apply fundamentals of polymer chemistry to materials development while meeting product and cost requirements. This experience helped him better prepare for a materials/polymer scientist role in industry.
Henkel, an international chemical corporation, has offered internships and employment of many UConn alumni in past years. While they have a production plant and offices in Connecticut, Abhirup was in the Bridgewater, NJ facility.
Dr. Ying Li is using computers and artificial intelligence to improve delivery of nanomedicines to tumors. “A lot of medicines involve intravenous injections of drug carriers,” said Ying Li, an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Connecticut. “We want them to be able to circulate and find the right place at the right time and to release the right amount of drugs to safely protect us. If you make mistakes, there can be terrible size-effects.”
Dr. Stephen Ekatan completed his final dissertation, Material Properties of Complex Synthetic Macromolecules Containing Secondary Structures, in January 2021 under the advisement of Professor of Chemistry Dr. Yao Lin.
As a researcher who values the application of science, and desires to make positive contributions during his career, Dr. Ekatan has accepted a position with Nel Hydrogen, a global, dedicated hydrogen company, delivering optimal solutions to produce, store and distribute hydrogen from renewable energy. In his new role as process engineer at Nel Hydrogen, Stephen will focus on the development of coating technologies for membrane electrode assemblies used in water electrolysis to generate hydrogen.
Reflecting on his time in the IMS Polymer Program, Steve says that one of the most important skills he has developed is the ability to look at the “big picture” and examine how various areas of research intertwine, leading to new achievements in science and industry.
Dr. Jeffrey R. McCutcheon, Professor and Executive Director, Fraunhofer USA Center for Energy Innovation; Al Geib Professor of Environmental Engineering Research and Education, UConn School of Engineering has been announced as an inductee in the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) for 2021.
Dr. McCutcheon joined UConn in 2008, after receiving his Ph.D. from Yale University in 2007. He was selected to receive the Dupont Young Professor award in 2013, one of only 14 professors worldwide to receive the honor. In 2019, as an internationally recognized expert in membrane technologies for sustainable water and energy production, Dr. McCutcheon was chosen to lead UConn’s participation in the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI), a research consortium awarded a five-year, $100-million Energy-Water Desalination Hub to address water security issues in the United States.
In 2020, McCutcheon lead a team developing a prototype of an emergency ventilator that could be produced by Connecticut manufacturers to help ease anticipated shortage of the devices as the novel coronavirus continued to spread across the state.
Election to the Academy is based on the applicant’s scientific and engineering distinctions, achieved through significant contributions in the form of publications, patents, outstanding leadership, and other factors.
New inductees are scheduled to be honored at the Academy’s 46th Annual Meeting that will be held virtually on May 27, 2021
While completing her Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering & Technology at the Beijing Institute of Technology, Yanliu Dang discovered her research area of interest, materials and catalysis. When searching for doctoral programs, she decided to come to the US in order to learn about American culture and explore research opportunities not available in China. She singled out UConn to study under the guides of one of the world’s leaders in catalysis, Prof. Steven Suib.
Her studies in catalysis at UConn led to her dissertation defense, “Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of Metal Oxide/Phosphide-Based Catalysts for Energy Applications”
In addition to catalysis, Yanliu stated that she gained significant knowledge in microscopy and material characterization. She was very grateful to have the opportunity to work on advanced instruments at UConn: Titan Themis TEM, Dual Beam FIB, and XPS to study materials and catalytic mechanisms.
Yanliu’s paper, Constructing Bifunctional 3D Holey and Ultrathin CoP Nanosheets for Efficient Overall Water Splitting, was published in July 25, 2019. Her paper, Partial Reduction of Ruthenium Oxide as Efficient and pH-Universal Electrocatalysts for Hydrogen Evolution, is currently under review. Her third paper, Self-standing Ruthenium Oxide Nanocomposite for Regenerable Electrocatalyst in Seawater Splitting, is around the corner.
Ian J. Martin and Samiksha Vaidya of Dr. Rajeswari Kasi’s research group recently attended the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2019 National Meeting & Exposition in San Diego, CA and presented posters entitled “Templated perylene diimide-polydiacetylene supramolecular structures with unique chromatic transitions” and “Molecular engineering of dye incorporated liquid-crystalline polymers with different architectures”, respectively. Each of their presentations were highlighted as distinguished poster nominees in the Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) division.
Dr. Luyi Sun, Director of the IMS Polymer Program and Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, was inducted into the academy at its 44th Annual Meeting in May 2019
Election to CASE is made on the basis of scientific and engineering distinction achieved through significant contributions in theory or applications, as demonstrated by original published books and papers, patents, the pioneering of new and developing fields and innovative products, outstanding leadership of nationally recognized technical teams, and external professional awards in recognition of scientific and engineering excellence.
Dr. Sun’s publication credits include such distinguished journals as Scientific Reports, Nature Communications, Science, and Science Advances, as well as holding several patents related to his research. His work has been featured in articles at Smithsonian.com, R&D Magazine, and Plastics Technology among other publications. Dr. Sun also serves as advisor to the UConn student chapter of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE).
IMS Director Dr. Steven L. Suib, also a CASE member elected in 2012, congratulated Dr. Sun on his membership and accomplishments at a celebration at IMS.
Mechanoluminescence (ML), also called triboluminescence (TL), refers to the phenomenon/process that materials could emit light under mechanical stimuli, e.g., friction, stretch, compression, impact, etc. The ML materials could utilize the ubiquitous mechanical energy in daily life to generate light emissions, avoiding the requirement of an artificial photon- or electron-excitation source as that in photoluminescence (PL) or electroluminescence (EL). Therefore, ML materials show great advantages in energy saving and environmental protection.
For practical applications, ML crystals or powders are required to composite with bulk matrices to generate structural non-destructive ML. Among the fabricated ML composites, elastomer-based ones have attracted increasing attention owing to the rising requirement of incorporating stress sensing characteristic into flexible/wearable devices. The present ML elastomer composites mainly employ transition metal ion doped sulfides (TM-sulfides) as the luminescent components because of their intense ML intensity. However, the TM-sulfides usually have poor chemical stability and may cause severe environmental pollution as well as lack of rich emission color.
Theoretically, rare earth doped oxides (RE-oxides) are promising alternatives because of their high chemical stability, nontoxicity, and abundant energy levels. It is essential to develop efficient and ideally multicolored ML of RE-oxide based elastomer composites, so that flexible devices may possess remarkable and environmentally friendly mechanical responsive optical characteristics. Read the full story at Science Trends.